The humanist movement was heavily influenced by the theorists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. It offered a new understanding of human behaviour and motivations, and focuses on the needs of the individual. Maslow believed that everyone has fundamental needs that must be met in order for a person to achieve Self-actualisation (their full potential). These needs include security, warmth, food, shelter, love and having their confidence and self-esteem boosted. These stages of learning are outlined in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.
In a classroom setting, a child who is hungry or tired will have difficulty focusing on lessons. A teacher’s role is to build a strong relationship with their students, as a child will also need to feel physically and emotionally secure in this environment to thrive and reach their full potential.
Constructivism is a theory which explains how people may acquire knowledge and learn. The theory implies that we learn through experience.
John Dewey believed that human beings learn through a ‘hands-on’ approach, enabling students to develop problem solving skills, as well as practical life skills. From an educational perspective, this means that children learn through engaging with their environment rather than sitting in a classroom and being told what to think.
Maria Montessori founded the Montessori Method. This is an educational approach based on ‘hands-on’ learning which encourages independence and individuality through play. The role of the teacher is more that of an observer, who will prepare the classroom and arrange age appropriate activities. The children are allowed to develop at their own pace, developing imagination and creativity as they move through each stage of development.